Luggage - Carry On

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What is the suitcase weigh-in process?

You should have a separate suitcase/overnight bag just for use at the college.

At the college, the first thing that will happen is we will weigh your Europe suitcase and carry-on.  Pack your uniform in your suitcase along with everything else that you plan to travel with.  Make sure your suitcase is less than 35 lbs, or we will have you remove items until your suitcase is an allowable weight.  (This can be embarrassing to do with everyone waiting in line, so weigh it before you get to the college.)  The suitcase must be less than 62 dimensional inches (L x W xH) Charges for oversize suitcases are $300.  (Really!)

After weigh-in, your suitcase goes on to the dorm room with you.

We recommend that you do not use the Europe suitcase at the college except for your uniform, toiletries and the wire music stand (which will be in your suitcase for the flight).  That will help you avoid changing the weight, which might result in an issue at the airport.  If your suitcase is overweight, you will have to pay for the extra fees, which have become quite expensive. ($150 or more in 2013).  You also want to be sure you have room and extra weight available for bringing home souvenirs.

Your carry-on should be less than 17 lbs. and fit under your bed.  We recommend using a backpack.


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Is there any lee-way with the 35 lb rule for the luggage?

Trying to cram all of the clothes and everything else, shoes, toiletries, and whatnot into a suitcase with a low weight limit it pretty hard. Can I hide clothes in my instrument case?

The weight limit is a compact between AMA and the airlines, and we have no way to allow anything other than what AMA has put in print. Also, this accounts for extra weight and space for souvenirs on the trip home.  Fees for excess weight (over 50 lbs) are $150 .  If your suitcase is overweight, you are responsible for the cost. In 2016, 4 people had to pay $150 because of overweight or extra baggage.

Make wise choices about clothing and stick to the limit. If you use the packing guide in the April Newsletter, you should be fine.  You’ll find that you’ll have plenty of clothing if you choose wisely, especially because the Staff will remind you when the ‘good’ laundry nights will be (i.e., when you stay in the same hotel for two nights, the first night becomes an excellent opportunity to wash your clothes).

Also remember that you’ll be carrying your suitcase, carry-on in the hotels.  Sometimes the busses cannot park near the hotel, and you may need to carry your suitcase down a cobblestone street.  Many of the hotels have small (or zero) elevators. Thirty-five pounds will be plenty when you have to climb stairs at 10PM!

That said, you can put clothing in your instrument case if you want. Especially for cases like Tubas, Euphoniums, and perhaps Trombone & Bari Sax, sometimes clothing can actually help protect the instrument as ‘padding’.

REMEMBER – When traveling – Less is More!

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What happens with the Europe suitcase after it’s weighed?

You will keep the suitcase with you – You will need your uniform, music stand, toiletries and other stuff that you’ll take on tour.  For more info – see the Luggage FAQ

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What kind of luggage do you recommend?

  1. First, look for something that weighs less than 14 lbs.  Bring a bathroom or luggage scale to weigh prospective suitcases.  Most luggage stores have hand held luggage weighing scales.
  2. Second, look for something with INLINE wheels.  We will be traveling over cobblestones, and suitcases with small exposed wheels will soon find themselves victims of wheel amputation.
  3. Third, look for something with decent zippers, latches and handles.  It’s no fun toting a suitcase that won’t stay closed, or has a broken handle. Most students find that duffle bags with wheels work well.  They are soft sided, making them lighter, and allow for needed expansion as souvenir purchases increase.
  4. While you are purchasing a suitcase, purchase a luggage strap – just in case!

For Carry-ons – We recommend a backpack.

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What’s the deal with the “College” Suitcase?

We recommend packing two suitcases – the suitcase for traveling in Europe, and a smaller one (a small duffel or backpack) with the clothing for your stay at the college.

That way, when you are done at the college, your parents can take home all the dirty clothing, (including any denim you may have chosen to wear at the college), and other stuff you won’t need on tour.

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Do students carry instruments on plane or bus?

Small instruments (Flutes, Piccolos, Oboes & Clarinets) will be put into your carry-on, carried on as a small item, or packed inside your suitcase for the flight. In Europe, you’ll keep you instrument in your hotel room and will be responsible for bringing it to and from concert venues.

Medium sized instruments (Violins, Violas, Trumpets, Alto Saxophones and Bassoons) will be packed 2-4 instruments together in a cardboard box with bubble wrap for the flight overseas.  The boxes are tagged & checked at the baggage area and put under the plane.  You can choose to carry one of these instruments as your carry-on, but if it doesn’t fit in the overhead bin (too big or bins are filled) it may end up being put under the plane by itself.

“Larger” instruments are individually tagged & checked at the baggage area and put under the plane.

Once in Europe, medium and large instruments will be transported in a securely locked trailer that is towed behind one of the coaches.  You will not need to carry these instruments to your hotel room.


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Should I lock my suitcase/instrument case for the flight?


Many suitcases and ALL instruments are opened up by security at the airport.  If the case is locked, and you are not using a TSA approved lock, they will break the lock, and possibly your suitcase/instrument case.

If you are locking it because you are afraid it might open, use a luggage strap instead.

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When can I pick up the collge suitcase from my son/daughter?

If you are leaving after the concert, you will have about an hour after the concert to collect anything not needed on tour and take it home.

If you are staying overnight, you can pick up the stuff right after breakfast or before the busses depart for the airport.

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Can bring my clarinet/flute/oboe as my ‘extra personal item’ on the plane?

That’s OK if it won’t fit in your suitcase, and it’s fairly common, because it is in the same category as a purse or camera bag (but you should still try to consolidate everything into the smallest possible number of items). Here’s an additional good reminder: if while in Europe you purchase souvenirs that “must” be hand-carried (because they’re fragile, sentimental, easily-lost, etc.), make sure you have a plan for the return trip. A carry-on, small instrument, and a bag of souvenirs might be a difficult load.

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Do I need to get an x-ray bag, or will my camera equipment be safe through the airports?

Staff members have taken both film cameras and digital cameras over the years. Some Staff members have taken X-ray bags to protect the film (available at any photo store, and probably in the photo departments of other stores as well) but usually had to send the loaded camera unprotected through the scanner anyway. However, they never suffered any damage. The airports say that the security machines have changed over the years so that film is generally good until you get to 1000 or 1600 ISO speeds. In the past, staff members have had some ISO-1600 go through with no visible damage.

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